Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summer trip last day. Kearny Nebraska to home

Got up early and headed east.  Got across Nebraska and into Iowa, no problems.  But then things started falling apart.

First, after another DQ lunch (where they had smoked brisket!) all of a sudden the bikes didn't want to stay strapped on the trailer anymore.  The back two were coming loose of it's moorings and bouncing around.  Fortunately, not all the way off and we got them tied back down well.

Then, we decided to take a detour around DesMoines to get away from the road construction delays we had run into on day one and just south of Ames, a tire on the trailer blew off it's tread and we had no spare.  We stopped at a fix it place in a little town but they were not able to provide a tire but pointed us to a place near Ames that would.  We limped the 30 miles to that place and had them replace two tires of the four.  I almost bought a spare too but decided that we wouldn't need it after we fixed the two worst tires.  That was a mistake...

We jumped back on the interstate heading north but about 60 miles from Mason City another tire blew it's tread.  It was now to late in the day to get any help from any tire place in the small towns so we slowed down to try and get to Mason City.  At about 40 miles out the whole tire blew and we were running on the rim.  We decided to keep going on the rim because we were going to have to buy a new rim with a new tire anyhow.  Eventually we got to the Fleet Farm in town, bought the new wheel and got it changed.  Jim and Keith decided to unload there bikes while I was shopping for the wheel so they could get home sooner than later.

We had a time of thanksgiving to God for the great week and bid farewell in the parking lot.  We finally made it home at about 11:00 PM.

Wrap up:
It was a great trip with great roads, great weather, great scenery and great fellowship with great Christian Brothers.
Praise the Lord!

Summer Trip Day 7. Cottonwood Pass to Kearny Nebraska

Friday July 17, 2015

We had visitors over night.  A bear had tried to get into Steve's saddlebag after some good smelling morsel and had knocked it over.  Fortunately, Yogi and Booboo left after their failed attempt.  Steve's bike had only slight damage, a broken turn signal.

After standing his bike up and accessing the damage we headed back to the "best coffee shop in the world" for breakfast in Buena Vista.  Over breakfast sandwiches and coffee we planned our last day in the mountains.  I called my cousin who lives near Denver and set up a meeting.  Did our normal scripture reading and prayer and headed east.

We took US285 north and east through more beautiful country to my cousin, Randy's house.  There he showed us his motorcycle collection, shared a cool drink and then it was time to head out of the mountains and get around Denver to our waiting trailer.

Randy pointed us to a nice twisty road down to the interstate called "Turkey Lane".   The ride down Turkey Lane not only brought us out of the mountains but also out of the mountain cool.  It went from about 75 degrees to 95 degrees in one quick swoop.

The ride around Denver on the interstate was fast, busy, hot and miserable.  But we stopped about half way around for some lunch at a Chick-Filet so that was nice.

We got back to the KOA at around 2;00 PM.  Loaded the bikes back onto the trailer, tied em down good and hit the road for home.  We pulled into Kearny Nebraska at about midnight, where we had reserved rooms at the Ramada.

What a difference a day makes.  We went from a cool mountain camp site to hot prairie flat land.  But all good things must come to an end.

Summer Trip Day 6 Black Canyon to Cottonwood Pass

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Another delicious breakfast over the one burner and after scripture and prayer we were on our way.  First a short ride down to the Gunnison river dam then east on US 50 through the town of  Gunnison then into the Gunnison National Forest and Monarch Pass.  The road up to Monarch Pass is another very twisty fun road.  We stopped at the Visitor's Center at the crest of the pass and asked a young lady to take our picture for the momentous occasion.  It was this very pass which had been Steve's first mountain ride 14 years ago when he and I and my favorite brother-in-law, Charlie, were here in 2001.  At that time Steve was a novice rider and to say he was tentative about this pass is an understatement.  Steve is now one of the fastest, most fearless rider I know.  He has come along way, baby.

From the crest we headed on east down out of the mountain, then north up US285 to Buena Vista where Keith's most favorite Coffee Shop in the world is located (whose name escapes me at the moment).  Something about a Brown Dog, as I recall.
We had some lunch and pie and planned our afternoon.  I was leaning towards heading up to another beautiful pass I had riden on two other occasions, Independence Pass.  However it was a bit of a ways away and we were trying to google road constructions on the road when all of a sudden Keith interrupts a phone conversation to say "Cottonwood Pass is a great place to go".  I looked at him like he was crazy and said "what, who was talking about Cottonwood Pass".  He shrugged his shoulders and went back to his phone conversation.  After he hung up he brought it up again, "Yes Cottonwood Pass is great and it's just west of town here up a county road".  We looked it up on the map and had to agree, it looked good on paper.  And it was close and there were campsites up there.  Sounded perfect and it was!  A great twisty county road up beautiful country and the crest of the pass has some outstanding views. And we were able to make snow balls!

The road turned into gravel as it continued west down the mountain.  Steve headed that way on his dual purpose bike.  The rest of us headed back east the way we came but stopped at the campground where we found and claimed the last camp site in the place.  We rested as we waited for Steve to make his way back up the mountain and find us.  Then we set up camp and headed back into town for Pizza.  After supper we carefully headed back up the mountain watching for deer in the dark as we found our camp site.  Another great day of mountain riding!

Summer Trip. Day 5 Naturita to Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Had breakfast in the same restaurant as our really bad supper and they make a much better breakfast and the service was fine!  The day is starting out good.  We loaded up and headed south on Colorado state Hwy 145.  A beautiful, twisty road through the San Juan National Forest.  After our morning ride the traffic got heavy but that let up after we got past the big tourist destination of the Teluride ski area.  Then it was a great ride again.  Stopped for pictures at Lizard Head pass.  Named for a huge rock out cropping that looks like a monstrous lizard.

Then it was a nice ride south down the mountain to the little town of Dolores, then we headed east to Durango where we found lunch in a DQ and prepared for the great road known as "The Million Dollar Highway" (US 550) north which I fondly remember from my last trip to Colorado in 2001.  This beautiful road was still as beautiful as I remembered but unfortunately it was stopped up with traffic from road construction.  They were stopping traffic for one way travel which put us into a pack of slow moving vehicles.  But we stopped at the delightful tourist town of Silverton and did some shopping.  I bought an anniversary present for my bride of 38 years which I was going to miss because of this trip.

After Silverton we got back onto the great twisties of the Million Dollar Highway (still road construction) to Ouray then further north through the high plateaus to Montrose where we bought supper and breakfast for the campground.  Headed east on US 50 and found a campground along the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

.  Around the camp fire I got a hot ash into my eye which caused not a little concern and pain.  But Dr Jim had just the treatment in some high power eye drops that was just the ticket.  That night we were able to continue the bible study from I Tim 6 on pursuing righteousness.  It was a long day but we saw some great scenery and hit some great roads

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Summer Trip Day 4 Colorado National Monument to Naturita

Tuesday July 14, 2015

Some sprinkles on the tent as the day broke.  No reason for most of us to get up in this.  Except for Keith, since he decided to sleep under the stars, sprinkles caused him to scramble while the rest of us rolled over in our sleeping bags.  Fortunately, it wasn't much moisture and it didn't last long.  Breakfast was omelets cooked over the one burner by Steve.  Yum!

After loading up and scripture/prayer we headed back down from the top of the park on the same great road to Grand Junction.  Stopped at some pull outs for more great views of the red cliffs.  In town we made a stop at a Walmart for some more gear then headed south.

We had noticed on the map a very interesting looking highway with some nice twisties which would bring us down into SW Colorado and get us into place for our foray back east into the high mountains of central Colorado.  It was State Hwy 141 from Grand Junction to Naturita.  After riding it we can all agree that this is a GREAT road and is HIGHLY recommended! It follows the Dolores river valley with cool looking tall red mountainous cliffs on each side.  The curves are fun and the scenery is amazing.  (remember to click on the pics to make them full size).

We stopped at a little town called Gateway for gas and lunch.  Fortunately, the only place in town had both.  Next to the gas station was a old fashioned dining car which a couple from India had brought in and was selling really bad, greasy American food.  Someone at the pump had warned us not to eat there but the suggestion of where else to eat didn't pan out so we ended up back there and filled our stomachs.  There were a few tables set up in the veranda between the dining car and the store and at some point I turned to the family next to us and said "So, where are you from?".  Their faces lit up as they said "Why, we are from England!".  It turned out they were on holiday for three weeks in Colorado and we were delighted to spend some time sharing our stories.  The dad is a surgeon, Mom is a dentist and the two daughters are college students.  I shared our Fossil business cards with them and promised them I'd put their picture on our web site if they'd pose for me.  They did, and here it is:

Hi folks, sorry it's taken me so long to post this, hope you still see it.  It was great meeting you!

After lunch we continued on south on Colorado 141 not sure how far we were going to get that day.  There had been some light rain around all day making some wet, even flooded roads.  But the light rain turned heavy which settled for us where to call it a day.  Steve had zoomed ahead and tried to make it to a town called Naturita without stopping to put on rain gear, He didn't make it dry.  Us slow pokes, however, saw the dark clouds and pulled over to gear up before the wet started.  It was really pouring heavily as we pulled into town and saw Steve waving us into an enclosed car wash bay where he retreated from the rain.  From there we pulled up the weather radar on our phones and realized this was going to last a couple more hours.  We decided that this was the town and the only motel in town would be our home tonight.

Supper was in a restaurant across the street.  This day is the day that will go down as the day when our food was the worst.  Supper was even worse than lunch.  The service was lousy and the food was slow, un-done and yucky.  Otherwise, it was a good evening and the much needed shower felt great!  
The real bed was nice too.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Summer Trip Day 3 Vega State Park to Colorado National Monument Park

Monday July 13, 2015.
It had been a windy night which kept some of us up but no rain though the dark clouds threatened as we cooked breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon.  It never rained and after breakfast we rolled up our gear and packed it all up.  Pastor Keith read us a "sparkle" verse from the prophet Zechariah and another daily devotional verse from his phone app.  The Zechariah verse became our daily verse:
Zechariah 9:16
The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown.

What a promise, what a hope for those who are "His people".   And, BTW, we are only "His people" through faith in His Son, Jesus.

Anyway, back to the story:  Our first goal this day was to hit a nice twisty road we found on the map called State Hwy 65.  North to south from Mesa to Delta. Then we'd take a main highway (50) back north and west to Grand Junction and end the day at the Colorado National Monument just west of town.  This was Steve's suggestion as he had been there before and said it was worth the trip.  He was right, BTW.
 It was a beautiful day and 65 was a very nice road with many switchbacks and gorgeous scenery.  And blessing upon blessing, we had the road pretty much to our selves.  We were able to take the curves at our own pace and not worry about cars and trucks slowing us down.

As mentioned, this was western Colorado and it had a very western, desert feel to it.  The mountain passes were not as high (@ 10,000 feet) or as green as central Colorado but still very interesting and we were very glad to be there.  The road up to Grand Junction was very fast and hot and the high plateau we rode through looked like every Cowboy movie you've ever seen.  I kept expecting John Wayne to ride up and say "Howdy, Pilgrim"!  In Grand Junction we ate lunch in a nice restaurant downtown (name escapes me at the moment).  Then we gassed up and headed west of town up into the amazing Colorado National Monument where we'd camp that night.

Colorado National Monument is like a mini-Grand Canyon that is much more accessible with great twisty roads and outstanding scenery.  Keith played mountain man and slept on a rock ledge under the stars.  Bible study was at "his place" with flying stars as welcome interruption. More from I Tim 6: "God's Man".

Summer Trip Day 2. Strausberg to Vega State Park, Colorado

Sunday July 12.  Woke up nice and early and unloaded the bikes off the trailer.  Then breakfast at the campground: sausage and pancakes cooked by the mother of the KOA owner, Scott.  Scott lead me to a place to park the trailer and van for the week.  Then we loaded the bikes with our stuff, read a scripture, prayed and hit the road.

Goal was to take Interstate 70 through Denver and Colorado to Vega State Park in western Colorado where we'd start our adventure of taking twisty roads back forth south and east until we'd get back to Denver by the end of the week.  Normally we try to avoid interstates when we are riding but we wanted to get west and then work our way back so it was a necessary "evil".  And if you are forced to ride an interstate, I70 through Colorado is about as good as they get.  Mountain passes and the Eisenhower tunnel are the highlights.

It was nice that is was a Sunday morning in that the traffic was not very bad getting through Denver. The weather was warm to hot but the scenery soon got nice.  We could see the mountains west of the city and it wasn't too long until we were working our way through them.  Nice, very nice.

Between Eagle and Glenwood Springs there was a total traffic stop due to construction.  It soon became very evident that the stop would be quite a while so everyone shut off their engines and started milling around taking in the scenery.  It was an annoyance to have to stop but the ambiance was amazing.  High mountain cliffs on each side, a river and railroad track down below:


Lunch was in GlenWood Springs which was very busy with many tourists.  We then started planning our afternoon when we'd get off the super slab.  As mentioned, our goal was Vega State Park in the Grand Mesa mountains.  We had noticed that there are two ways to get to Vega, one short cut via gravel and one longer route via paved two lane.  We stopped at a gas station in Silt Colorado and asked a young, bearded local man on the condition of the gravel road.  He said it wasn't too bad but he usually go there in a pick-up.  We decided to split up, two via the gravel and two via the pavement.  Steve has a new-to-him dual purpose Suzuki V-Strom which he was very interested to try on some dirt.  I (Wayne) decided to take it with him.  That is what we did, but we got lost a few times.  I mostly just got out of his way and let Steve have his fun.  The roads were pretty rough to my touring bike but his ran up the mountain fast, no problems.

After about 20 miles we got to the summit and hit pavement back into the State Park.  The road was nice and twisty but I had a good scare with a deer jumping in front of me from behind a bush.  Yikes!
Jim and Keith caught up with us and we found a camp site.  Set up, make supper and had a bible study around the camp fire:  I Tim 6:11-15:  God's man is to constantly flee evil and constantly pursue righteousness.  

It was a long day, but very productive and we were in the mountains!

Summer Trip Day 1 Mpls to Denver (almost)

Saturday July 11.  We jumped into the van @ 6:00 AM and hit the road.  Goal was to make to the KOA in Stausberg CO East of Denver by the end of the day so we can be riding in the mountains on Sunday.  Goal was met but it was a very long day.  Pulled into the KOA at 10:00 PM, 16 hours on the road.  Took turns driving, of course.  Slow down in Des Moines from road construction, other wise, no problems.  Mantra was:  "The Trailer is Wider than the Van!".
Strausberg, CO KOA
Our "Kamping Kabin"

Sunrise in Colorado.